Where’s the role of ADR in Access to Justice

April 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm 2 comments

In his Australian Dispute Resolvers blog, Chris Whitelaw ponders over the potential of ADR to promote and secure Access to justice. ADR has been present on the A2J scene for a long time but nowadays the ongoing cutbacks of public budgets make policy makers and service delivery agencies to look for cheap and effective alternatives. That’s where ADR comes riding waves of assumptions that it’s cheaper (than legal aid?) and effective (to solve disputes in fair manner).

Victoria and New South Wales have introduced reforms aiming to introduce ADR in the early phases of the dispute. Bellow is an example of the steps that a provider of dispute resolution services has to take attempting to settle a dispute before litigation has been considered:

1. Obtaining sufficient information and material  about the dispute, its parties, their interests and values

2.  Working out who needs to be involved in the dispute

3. Obtaining access to relevant documents

4. Send out questionnaires to the parties

5. Preliminary meeting with each disputant

6. Considering and recommending the right ADR method for the conflict at hand

7. Establish dates for all processes that might supplement ADR

8. Establish all things that have to happen before the main ADR process

9. Schedule the dispute resolution process

10. Work with the parties and others involved – education, awareness raising etc.

Read more about the relationship between ADR and Access to justice here


Entry filed under: Access to Justice, Australia, Dispute Resolution, Uncategorized.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Andrew Rogers  |  April 17, 2011 at 1:59 am

    I agree with what you say.

    With the caveat that the ADR has to be well resourced and manned by people with skills that extend beyond ADR.

    What I have in mind is the ability to help the parties reality check and also use their experience to be creative in suggesting solutions. In my private practice I have seen a number of disasters where this was absent and the outcome was outrageous.

    At one level you would congratulate the ADR process for getting the parties to agree. However it reminds me of a criticism of Quality Certification. You could get the 5 ticks if you consistently produced the same concrete life buoy every day.

    It would also help if everyone asked the simple questions – “have you spoken to the other side” and “do you know why they think they shouldn’t have to [pay].”

    ps congratulations on your excellent blog.

    • 2. mgramatikov  |  April 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      Andrew, thanks for the comment. Indeed, ADR is not a panacea and cannot fix itself an inefficient official justice mechanisms. Neither, it is realistic that it can prosper without the shadow of the law casted by just processes with sufficient enforcement powers.


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